COLUMBUS, Ohio – The eight winners of the third annual NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway Park are halfway home in the chase for the coveted Jeg’s crown trophy. The eight champions – Craig Bourgeouis (Comp), Kevin Helms (Super Stock), Jerrod Granier (Stock), Steve Cohen (Super Comp), Jerry Debusk (Super Gas), Sid Norwood (Super Street), and Ed Stuart (Top Sportsman) – can capture the Jeg’s crown by winning their respective eliminator titles at the upcoming Jeg’s Northern SPORTSnationals at National Trail Raceway in Columbus (July 28-30).

The beautifully handcrafted Jeg’s Crown trophy was designed and created by Dan Dreisbach, the head fabricator at Team Rahal. Thus far, the only drive to earn the Jeg’s Crown is Mike Ashley, who won both events SPORTSnationals events in 2005 while racing in the AMS Pro Mod Series.

“The Jeg’s Crown would be an awesome deal to win,” said Steve Cohen, the 1987 NHRA Super Comp World Champion and a multi-time Southeast Division champ. “Just to have the opportunity to compete for that trophy is an honor. I really enjoy racing at these [NHRA SPORTSnational] events. The Belle Rose race was just awesome, and not just because I won. We really had a great time down there.”

One driver who is thankful to have another shot at the Jeg’s crown is Super Street racer Sid Norwood, who nearly captured the trophy last year. Norwood will take his second shot at the Jeg’s Crown when he brings his ’80 Corvette to Columbus.

“I came close [to the Jeg’s Crown] last year and I’m grateful to have a chance to win it again in 2006,” said Norwood, who backed up his win in Belle Rose with a semifinal finish in Columbus. “The folks at Jeg’s really go the extra mile for the racers and we appreciate it.”

The following drivers are in contention for the 2006 Jeg’s Crown:

Driver: Ed Stuart
Age: 64
Hometown: Pensacola, Fla.
Car: Bullet Motorsports Cavalier
Belle Rose Review: Using a combination of great reaction times and steady 7-second performances, Ed Stuart claimed his first title in the Top Sportsman class. Coming off a nearly perfect .001 light in the semifinals, Stuart stopped Dan Morrow in the final round with a 7.64 on his 7.62 dial. As a result of his win in Belle Rose, Stuart is currently a contender for the Southeast Division Top Sportsman title.

Driver: Craig Bourgeois
Age: 45
Hometown: Metarie, La.
Car: A/Nostalgia Dragster
Belle Rose Review: A month before his win at the third annual NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals, Craig Bourgeois drove to a runner-up finish at the Division 4 Lucas Oil Series event in Belle Rose. Using that experience to have advantage, Bourgeois closed the deal with a final round win over Dick Maris. Running off a 7.45 index, Bourgeois, drove his front-engine dragster to a 7.00 to claim his second career NHRA national event title.
“Anytime you’ve got an opportunity to win something this prestigious, you’ve got to go for it,” said Johnson. “We’re definitely considering a trip to Ohio now. It would be quite an honor to win both events.”

Driver: Kevin Helms
Age: 41
Hometown: Mineola, Texas
Car: SS/CM ’95 Achieva
Belle Rose review: Three-time NHRA Stock Eliminator World Champ Kevin Helms has recently begun to make a name for himself in Super Stock with his Olds Achieva. In Belle Rose, Helms won the 15th national event of his career when he beat Gilbert Johnson Jr. in the final round. After beating former World Champion Larry Stewart in the quarterfinals, Helms earned a bye into his 23rd career final.

Driver: Jerrod Granier
Age: 39
Hometown: Labadieville, La.
Car: C/FIA ’97 Camaro
Belle Rose Review: Jarrod Granier lives just a few miles from No Problem Raceway Park, the home of the NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals and celebrated his first career national event victory when he drove his Chevy Camaro to a final round victory over Jeff Strickland, who was bidding to win his second straight SPORTSnationals title.

Driver: Steve Cohen
Age: 48
Hometown: Trilby, Fla.
Car: dragster
Belle Rose Review: More than 20 years after racing to his first NHRA national event final round at the 1982 Springnationals in Columbus, “Super Steve” Cohen is still going strong. The winner of 16 national events and the 1987 Super Comp World Championship, Cohen put together a great run in the Belle Rose final with a .008 reaction time and an 8.93 to beat another former World Champ, Jim Hughes.

Driver: Jerry Debusk
Age: 43
Hometown: LaPorte, Texas
Car: ’92 Ford Probe
Belle Rose Review: In 2000, Jerry Debusk fulfilled the dream of every drag racer when he won the biggest race in the world, the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Debusk won another prestigious title when he drove his Ford Probe to a victory in Belle Rose. In the final round, Debusk ran a 9.92 on the 9.90 Super Gas index to edge another former Indy winner, David Tatum III, who was close behind with a 9.93.

Driver: Sid Norwood
Age: 59
Hometown: Brandon, Miss.
Car: Norwood Racing ’80 Corvette
Belle Rose Review: Sid Norwood has won two NHRA national event titles in his career and both of them have come at the NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals. Norwood became the only 2005 champ to successfully defend his title when he beat Bart Duffrene in the final round. Last year at the Jeg’s Northern SPORTSnationals in Columbus, Norwood raced to a semifinal finish, falling just two rounds short of winning the Jeg’s Crown trophy.

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